The Older Woman
The Older Woman certainly started my series romance reading on a high note for 2002. Much as I enjoy them, I have to admit that many series romances are not all that distinctive when it comes to style. This one is. Cheryl Reavis is an original writer with her own unique voice. There is no way that a reader could mistake this book for a run-of-the-mill series romance.
Specialist 4 Calvin “Bugs” Doyle is recuperating from physical and emotional wounds. He was very badly hurt in an accident when his Black Hawk helicopter went down and has spent months in the hospital undergoing surgery and rehab. He still walks with difficulty, he has a lot of pain and his future is uncertain. Emotionally, he is suffering because Rita Warren, the woman he loved and lived with for a time liked him, but did not love him and has married his commanding officer.
Bugs lives in an apartment in Mrs. Bee’s home. He is lonely and bored with nothing much to do except eat cake and chat with the ladies when Mrs. Bee’s church group comes over. One day, Mrs. Bee sees the next door neighbor Katherine Meehan standing out in the rain. So she sends Bugs over to see what is wrong.
Bugs knows Kate who was of the nurses who cared for him after his helicopter crash. She had always been a combination of tough and caring, the perfect military nurse. Kate is standing out in the rain because the man she had been dating gave her the “so long, it’s been nice” speech and she is deeply hurt, but she covers her feelings with her tough Nurse Meehan air and turns the tables by taking care of Bugs, who is suffering from muscle cramps.
The relationship between Kate and Bugs progresses very slowly. He grows from acquaintance to friend and then lover in a very natural progression. The fact that Bugs has known Kate for a long time before he goes to her in the rain keeps this from being a love at first sight book as so many series romances are. Bugs is a warm and kind man with a deep need to love and care for someone and he loves Kate unconditionally. Kate is reserved at first and remains so for almost the entire book. She has and has had lots of pain and issues and to reveal more would be a spoiler.
Bugs Doyle is the main character in this book and we see almost all the story through his eyes. Most of the interior monologues and thoughts are Bugs’ thoughts, and even the dialogue is focused more on Bugs than Kate, with the result that she remains a somewhat shadowy character. She is not unknowable, but she is distant – yet she is likable and her reserve makes her very intriguing to the reader. Finally at the end of the book, Kate pours her heart out and we understand her but that happens very, very late in the story.
I mentioned earlier that The Older Woman is distinctive in its style. It’s written in a combination of interior monologue and dialogue. That allows us to get to know one of the characters, in this case Bugs, very, very well. The downside of that style is that Kate remains a mysterious character although her long confession toward the end of the book lets the reader understand her well enough.
But I am not going to complain. I’ve read enough mundane series romances. I’m cheering an original voice, I’m looking forward to an author glom and I predict that when it’s time to list my favorite series romances for 2002, The Older Woman will be on the list.